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Local newscasts featuring news from across the Four Corners region.

Austin Cope

The Montezuma County commissioners voted 2 to 1 Monday to recommend a 10 percent pay increase for county elected officials. The increase would take effect only after the 2018 elections. Coroner George Deavers – who is paid $33,000 a year despite being on call around the clock –  told the board that only six of Colorado’s other counties opted out of any pay increase last year. He recommended a 20 percent hike. Clerk Kim Percell voiced reservations, saying her employees had no cost-of-living increase last year. Most county elected officials earn about $58,000 per year.

koseb / Creative Commons

Lightning struck and killed a 24-year-old Durango man around noon on Sunday while he was mountain-biking near the Lizard Head Wilderness Area south of Telluride. The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office said in a release that John Daniel Huisjen was biking with his girlfriend on the East Fork Trail when a thunderstorm moved in. The couple and other cyclists sought shelter below tree line but Huisjen was hit. An off-duty Telluride EMT started CPR, but life-saving attempts proved unsuccessful. Huisjen’s girlfriend was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.

US Air Force / Creative Commons

The Montezuma County commissioners gave approval Monday for the county health department to hire a new employee for 30 hours a week to help free up environmental health specialist Melissa Mathews for her other duties. The commission and health staff discussed a recent article in the Cortez Journal that charges the health department violated state open-records law by failing to turn over inspection records of 143 restaurant facilities upon request and demanding excessive fees.

National Park Service

Officials with Mesa Verde National Park are asking visitors to help them keep black bears away from people and out of trouble, following an increase in bear sightings this summer. In a release, park officials say they are taking steps to ensure that the park’s small population of bears do not have access to human food or garbage. Staff members are hazing bears to deter them from visiting human-inhabited areas and are patrolling Morefield Campground to make sure visitors have secured their food and trash.

Austin Cope

Small businesses impacted by the May 8th Western Excelsior Plant fire in Mancos are now eligible for low-interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. On Friday, the SBA announced it had issued a disaster declaration, following a request from Governor John Hickenlooper. The declaration means SBA assistance is available in Montezuma, Dolores, La Plata, and San Juan counties in Colorado; Apache County in Arizona; San Juan County in New Mexico; and San Juan County in Utah.